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Monday, November 29, 2021

Limpopo Education MEC Polly Boshielo Defends Centralization of PPE Contracts

NYAKALLO TEFU

LIMPOPO MEC for Education MEC Polly Boshielo has defended her department’s decision to centralize personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts.

This follows a furore by some principals and school governing bodies (SGBS) in Limpopo who lodged complaints with the Office of the Public Protector about being excluded from procurement of PPEs.

The Public Protector is currently investigating allegations of PPE corruption, including how certain provinces procured multimillion-rand contracts at inflated prices.

The investigations by the Public Protector come after the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) launched a separate probe into tenders for PPE in Gauteng, the country’s economic heartland.

This after politically connected individuals, including former presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko, illegally benefited from government contracts for the supply of PPEs to contain the spread of Covid-19.

In an exclusive interview with Inside Education, Boshielo said she had already met with the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over the procurement of PPE saga in her department.

Boshielo said she was satisfied that all PPE contracts given by her department were above board, and most importantly, benefitted the majority of local businessmen in Limpopo.

“We don’t have any problems with PPE in Limpopo. We don’t have any complaints as a department. The question was how do you do procurement at more than 3 000 points or schools,” said Boshielo.

“I am proud that the tenders of PPE benefitted local businesses. It would have been a recipe for disaster [had we not centralized procurement]. There are SGBS and principals who complained but we have taken them to court and dismissed some of them because they didn’t follow processes, including norms and standards.”

Last month, the Sunday Independent reported that a businessman has taken the Limpopo Department of Education to court after it cancelled his R6.7m personal protective equipment (PPE) contract, allegedly because MEC Polly Boshielo was “angry” over the one-hour delivery deadline miss.

Delton Makubane claimed the department terminated the contract awarded to his company, Mhlekazi Group of Companies, even though he had informed relevant officials about possible late delivery every step of the way.

Makubane said his company was initially given 24 hours to supply more than 7 000 digital thermometers before the LDOE withdrew the appointment letter long after the PPE had arrived at the warehouse in Seshego near Polokwane.

(COMPILED BY INSIDE EDUCATION STAFF)

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